Iraqi forces have recaptured ISIL's stronghold Hawija, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in Paris on Thursday. "I announce the liberation of the city of Hawija," al-Abadi said after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. "All that remains is the strip on the border with Syria."
Earlier on Thursday, the operation's commander, Lieutenant General Abdel Amir Yarallah, said Iraqi troops, police and paramilitaries "liberated the whole of the center of Hawija and are continuing their advance."
Government and allied forces backed by a US-led coalition launched an offensive last month to oust ISIL from Hawija, a longtime insurgent bastion. The town is among the final holdouts from the territory seized by the jihadists in 2014 and its recapture would leave only a handful of remote outposts in ISIL's hands.
Al-Abadi met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday for talks on the campaign against ISIL, which is backed by a US-led coalition including France.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that an estimated 12,500 people had fled Hawija since the launch of the offensive to retake the town and surrounding areas last month. The UN's humanitarian affairs office said the number of people still in the town was unknown but could be as high as 78,000. It said humanitarian agencies have set up checkpoints, camps and emergency sites capable of receiving more than 70,000 people who could flee.